Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

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Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby RumSmoothy » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:16 pm

Okay, yes this is presumptuous but Lady Hawk said I had a new perspective and I gushed. Blame her if my suggestions offend you.

Several years ago I played Dofus – an MMO rather famous in France and that game had a thriving economy. I have played 10 days of Eve and hated that economy. Too aggressively opportunistic? Too much like war. So with this as my “fresh perspective”, as LadyHawk described it, let me mumble some thoughts on economy.

Firstly, economy can be fun. Tremendously fun. But for that, we need economic things we can do. Alas, somehow elements of the economy of Ascent have lost their relevance while other elements are doing very well indeed. I want to talk of:
1) Inflation
2) Letting prices flow
3) three simple recommendations.

Some elements of this game have inflated away from relevance. I am thinking the meaningless sum we earn for collecting soil data when exploring. Or the small fees we earn for shifting passengers between the inner 9 worlds. The sums required to fix damage to our ships. These three prices are so low as to be meaningless.

And they don’t need to be. Making those fees ten times as much would have no bad effect but add additional meaning to the game. We might actually feel a bit more pain when we smash into that asteroid if we knew it will cost us 0.5% of the cost of our ship. Yes, I think damage should be scaled to match the ship we are damaging. This does not hurt newcomers and adds spice to those who can most afford it anyway. Maybe the higher fees on soil samples will be lost as we repeatedly tumble our ship over the horizon but perhaps we shouldn’t be exploring in a leviathan and should not try to land full throttle.

And this mechanic is already in place. Just issue a statement that the UNCL no longer wishes to subsidize space travel, so travel fees have jumped tenfold. I might actually care again about moving people between worlds. It might resurrect a fine aspect of the game I engaged in very early – before I realized it did not add to my wallet in a meaningful way.

The economy must offer meaningful rewards… and dangers. One fun aspect of this game could be betting on movements of the various commodities. The prices can rise and fall and should be encouraged to do so. Wow, imagine the impact of uranium falling to 10k in value for two months then rising again. Those who watched it could take advantage of the changes. Some could buy up when the price is down. All that’s required is to vary the purchase price range of the inner 9 planets on a week by week basis. Just randomly perhaps. Or base it on the overall universal production of a commodity. If no one is producing aluminium, let the inner9 price float higher while the over-produce carbon price drops. Now playing the economy becomes predictive and … fun. A whole new class of play emerges involving vast warehouses and arbitrage.

We don’t have this at the moment. We overproduce almost everything because that’s what we do on colonies. And we sell our surplus until it’s so cheap it’s not worth the trip to market. I can buy 100 million iron at 4credits each. But Iron is fun because it is a challenge to move it to the gate that needs it – so let’s not touch iron.

My next project is to buy up all the graphene from the market, and sell it to the inner 9 just to raise the price of it. And as long as the price of graphene is pegged at about 1500 each, I can force the true price up past 1000 each. Why do this? Just to play with the economy. Because I can play with the economy. I am sure others do this in other ways. Ooh look, this person under-priced their Magnesium on the galactic market. I’ll buy it up and sell it at the inner market rate. That’s how I earned my first Mammoth (and I remember it fondly).

If we set the market free to flow up and down, then it will flow up and down. That’s what markets do. I once cornered the scroll market for several weeks on Dofus and I still laugh about it. Got filthy rich doing it too. Who wants to corner the market in tin? I think the price of tin is tied to the price of uranium – and if uranium is allowed to flow up and down (according to production) then tin will follow. Actually, I don’t know if tin is tied to uranium but I’d might bet on it. Would you?

See? We can have fun playing a dynamic economy.

Firm recommendations:
1_ Raise the prices for passenger travel, soil sampling and above all damage to the ship. These are existing and beautiful economic features of the game that we can resurrect from irrelevancy.
2_ Tie damage repair to the cost of the ship. Big ships owners need big repair fees or they will never care about damaging their big ships.
3_ Vary the price ranges of those commodities traded on the Inner 9 stock exchange. Make it random or … better… tie it to the actual amount produced or mined– or perhaps the amount sold in the last week (or some other metric that Jam already records).

These three recommendations require very little programming. Jam might be persuaded to make these changes simply because it’s an easy but meaningful change to the game.

Lastly, I would mention that inflation is a gradual effect on all economies that have more money than product to buy. We have a little economy here in Ascent – but the truly wealthy have very little they can buy – so the economy has not inflated in value. However, give them something to buy – like lots and lots of aluminium someone thinks will rise in price – and prices will rise. Actually, I’m not certain what will happen – but something will definitely happen. And it will be fun participating in the economy as it happens. It will be fun losing money too.

I read another player had vast amounts of aluminium but nothing much to do with it. It is not required for gate production. That is a problem. We have a product we mine and invest in mining but … no actual use. Like passenger transport, aluminium is at risk of being abundant and stagnant and irrelevant.

This is a sandbox. So we make our own goals. And goals vary dramatically. Some want to reach the centre of the galaxy. Others want to be obscenely rich. Others want to lead politically while others enjoy helping newcomers. I want to make a beautifully designed city then walk down main street. We make our own way here and spend time together. So the economy is just one small facet of this game. It is beautiful but also a bit sickly. Sickly in that it occasionally lacks impact and does not behave dynamically. It behaves a bit like a command economy of the old communist countries. It lacks zest.

Blame LadyHawk for encouraging me to rant. (Actually, don’t!) Let’s hear your opinion on these three suggested changes. Can you add any experience of other games?

RumSmoothy.
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby Moneyman » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:01 pm

:mrgreen: No need to apologize for taking your time to describe your ideas for Ascent.

The key idea of Ascent is community ... true gold are the players in the game.

(Hauling within system iron to Stella Splendors gate to the TC1 system as I type these thoughts)

A lot of ideas have been posted on how to improve the fun of playing Ascent.

A thought to consider: Doing something in common with other players (to me) is the best way to have fun in Ascent.

... Experienced Ascent players derive their fun assisting new player(s) learning Ascent.

:arrow: Sketch economic idea(s) involving two or more players at some moment in-game. Thats the gold

The below link may contain some useful (i. e. Moon, Wulf, RAM, etc) ideas to consider.

(Whatever you think of this post ... Keep telling us about your ideas about Ascent)
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby davh62 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:16 pm

Danger? Risk versus reward? HELL YEAH!

But I've been waiting over two years for this already :D

I like your idea of buying all stocks of one item to change pricing. I have done this very recently with uranium & Magnesium. The net result was nice profit for me but zero change in pricing due to our crazy low player base. In principle it could work very well with a large player base & only on the rarer items that are low stock. Items like graphene its pretty much impossible. This is because as in my own example my graph is priced at 10k each. You would make a huge loss. It's priced that way for my own ease of hauling to market. Other materials we produce far too much of to deplete & as you say have very little to spend creds on.

Points 1-3 I totally agree with, very much needed.
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby airgosome » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:39 pm

In general, I look at these sorts of suggestions and try to ask myself how game play will change for me if they were implemented.

As an example, consider the suggestion that crash landing on planets be expensive, and more expensive for larger ships. What would happen if this change were implemented? Landing on planets is currently one of the more tedious parts of the game. We have hyperdrive, artificial gravity, and farm robots, but we can't build computers that will automatically land our ships safely and efficiently. With the proposed change, I get to choose between (1) Spending more money, (2) wasting more time landing carefully, (3) exploring in ships too small to jump very far. In order to make me choose any option but the first, the cost of crash landing has to go way up. I just don't see this as adding to my enjoyment of the game, but tastes differ.

As for tinkering with commodity and contract prices, I don't see this as very important. Ferrying real people in real life can have non-monetary rewards. Ferrying sims from place to place in Ascent is as tedious as pushing iron. If it were the fastest route to getting what I need to build a colony, I'd use it. During the tutorial, it added enough to my income stream to be worth doing. But what we have doesn't provide any inherent enjoyment. If we could set up taxi fleets with NPC pilots, and there were some challenge to keeping them running and profitable, that would be of interest. Making the existing tedium useful by adjusting the prices doesn't seem to me like an improvement.

When I think about the challenges and pleasures of manipulating market prices, it seems like a hobby for those players far enough into the game to control a lot of capital. If successful, the player shifts a lot of credits from other player's accounts into his. Fun for that player, irksome to everyone else, and of no particular interest to the players, like me, closer to the starting point.

For me, the pleasure of the game comes from finding a place to build a colony and then constructing something that works. Challenges that require thought on my part make it interesting. Fights with the user interface detract from my enjoyment. From my point of view, the biggest immediate improvement to the game would come from making the UI smooth and simple.

It would be nice if there were more long term goals we could cooperate on. I would prefer things that required planning and strategy over the haul-millions-of-tons-of-iron of gate building. Getting the economy to produce massive amounts of materials is fun. I haven't heard anyone say "Oh I can hardly wait to move another 20 million tons of iron." It's great to have big projects that take months. It would be better if they weren't months of tedium.

Davh registered a concern about how fast a new user could get into the top-tier ship. That only makes sense to me when taken together with the slim range of activities available once you get there. If the fear is that people will get tired of the game after they get to the top, one approach is to make them take longer to get there. Of course, you have to make getting there fun enough that they don't leave before then. A better approach, I think, is to keep the game fun once they reach that point.

RS's suggestions seem to be aimed at this issue, working from the reasonable point of view of "This sort of thing would improve my experience in the game, and perhaps be enjoyable for others, as well." I encourage also looking at every suggestion and seriously asking, "Why might someone find this change not so pleasant?"
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby Loke » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:08 pm

Very good points Rum. A more dynamic economy with risk and rewards would add a lot to the gameplay. The few times I have worked hard to aquire money and searched and calcualted new income it has felt very rewarding and enjoyable when I finally found a solution. Prices that changes more would also create more reasons for player to player trades, adding even more to the gameplay.

I agree with and fully support almost everything you wrote Rum. Especially your suggestion of prices that change according to supply:
RumSmoothy wrote:...tie it to the actual amount produced or mined– or perhaps the amount sold in the last week (or some other metric that Jam already records)...

If this could be done with Local Market prices, so that when we sell too much carbon over a long period of time the price would go down, while prices of other T1 would increase equally do to the unbalanced supply, it would create a more realistic and interesting ecenomy. It would need to be continuously calculated based on trade and not set by a person for it to be dynamical enough. Traders and producers would have to adjust to current needs, adding a new challenge, but also ensuring that there is always change and carbon prices goes up again when supply drops.
I think some randomeness added to demand woud be needed to avoid all T1 prices balancing out at same level. Same goes for T2 and mined materials that LMs buy as well. And I think demand logically could have large random fluctuations in demand do to major building projects, dumb politicians, economical changes etc. happening on the i9 planets.

Would take a lot of Jams time to add, but would be a good step for the games economy I think. We also need a class 16 or 17 so we can haul faster and remove overproduction and create a demand for T1s at SMs in the galaxy.


RumSmoothy wrote:This is a sandbox. So we make our own goals. And goals vary dramatically

Yes, its a sandbox, which does give limitless opportunities for the creative player. And since we cant expect Jam to implement all our great ideas, a lot is left for us players to create both the challenges and overcoming them. Any ideas of what we the players can do on our own to create a more dynamic econmy in the game, without Jams involvement? I am currently looking for my next big project and would happily use a lot of time and resources to push a more dynamic and interesting economy (you can read more about what I mean here: http://forum.thespacegame.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3451).
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Statistics for Nio and Tin prices: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3427
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby Moneyman » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:37 pm

:mrgreen: Seems, Rum, you've got a few players thinking about what you have to say ... Congrats on that. :)
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby Wulf » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:43 pm

Hi, if you want to plow thru years of forum post there has been lots of talks on economy,

Hate to say it but it toke years just to get a few new things to the market let alone a full upgrade to the simple economy system currently in game.

personally i have been asking just for tools to manage colonies , (warehouse specifically - to turn on/off different productions, production caps or dedicated warehouse space for say things like food, so that iron doesn't take all space).

if you want to have a look, poke about, you never know your write up on exactly how to change/improve the economy might be done.

personally i wrote pages on it and i wish you better luck.
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby Mooncrest » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:19 pm

Discussions about the economy come up time and time again and with good reason; the simple economy we have does not meet our expectations. Basically, there are not enough products using the raw materials we can garner, The exceptions being Niobium, Tin and, possibly Promethium. Another area is the cost of production, over which there has been a lengthy discussion already, Suffice to say that the cost of production is far too low; less than one credit per unit for raw materials and not much more for manufactured goods.

So the four things that need to be done are:
  1. Add maintenance cost for buildings and modules in colonies and OSBs. Charged daily (Real Time). I think we can ignore Settlements for this.
  2. Add maintenance cost for ships. Charged either daily as buildings/modules or every time a ship docks at a Starstation or Starbase as with Hyperdrive Damage. This charge to be in addition to the current repair costs.
  3. Set a basic minimum wage for all three groups of colonists
  4. Allow Players to research Mew Products.

Increasing passenger fares would be a nice touch. I always thought they were too low and should be about 10 to 15k per person.

New Products
If Players can create new products, they will be unique. This gives a Player an exclusive source of income. It can also provide a use for the unused or title used raw materials; providing an additional demand for them.

I envision it working like this:
The Player buys a New Product blueprint. They should be reasonable expensive, say, 1 billion credits.

This blueprint will allow the Player to create one new product. A Player may purchase as many of these as is desired., but only one at a time. Each will allow the creation of one new product, so the Player could create a line of products to sell, if desired.

None of these products will be demanded by the Local Market, so there are no complications on that front.

New products created in this way will be treated as luxury items.like Beer, Wine, Cigars, etc. Like Beer, Wine, Cigars, etc they will be consumed from the Player's warehouse and give a small morale bonus, but not necessarily a health cost (see below).

Before research begins, the Player will name the final product, decide the 'recipe' for the product, set the morale bonus, within certain parameters, and determine if the product is to be produced at a colony or at an OSB. If the Player chooses any morale boost higher than the base, there will be an appropriate health cost to bear when the product is consumed. These new products should be allowed to be banned, just as other luxury products.

It will take three days to research the blueprint. After which the Player will have a new factory added to the list of factories for building at a colony or OSB.

If we can get this implemented it will, I hope, radically change the way we are doing things. By introducing unique products, it should encourage Payers to buy the new products. I do not think that should be too time consuming to code; some of the code is already done viz Beer, Wine, Cigars, etc,. plus, I always wanted to buy 'Awesome Sauce' :D

I would very much like to find an excuse to research unique ship modules as well, but I have not been able to think of unique properties for each and, of course, the two main contenders already have improved versions.

I think thet essentially the Local Market is a necessary evil required by new players. Because we have been unable to make Player to Player trading work, we have used the LM as a crutch to lean on and now the established Players are just using it to set monetary goals, because they have achieved all others. Hopefully, being able to create new products will get the imagination juices flowing and provide some interesting, fun options.
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby Wulf » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:36 pm

Mooncrest wrote:Discussions about the economy come up time and time again and with good reason; the simple economy we have does not meet our expectations. Basically, there are not enough products using the raw materials we can garner, The exceptions being Niobium, Tin and, possibly Promethium. Another area is the cost of production, over which there has been a lengthy discussion already, Suffice to say that the cost of production is far too low; less than one credit per unit for raw materials and not much more for manufactured goods.

So the four things that need to be done are:
  1. Add maintenance cost for buildings and modules in colonies and OSBs. Charged daily (Real Time). I think we can ignore Settlements for this.
  2. Add maintenance cost for ships. Charged either daily as buildings/modules or every time a ship docks at a Starstation or Starbase as with Hyperdrive Damage. This charge to be in addition to the current repair costs.
  3. Set a basic minimum wage for all three groups of colonists
  4. Allow Players to research Mew Products.

I.


I worry with a maintenance cost or a set day value, it will hurt those that do not play daily, (as a previous post) I feel just building in a cost of production into items would work without hurting those that are more casual. just tack on and the 'costs' to the item being sold, no need to gouge the inactive player. and on the flip side that give colonies(not player) in game cash to buy commodities on there own generating buy order everywhere. any how we know how my cost of production went over. but i an extremely opposed to just daily fees, that just srceems 'hurt colony owners more', i mean colony are already giant money pits, just building them i will never see my money back both as ingame and the SC's payed. still my advice - do not build colonies - only need extremely basic one for extra research and a single osb. adding more punishment (fees) to colonies just makes that statement more true.
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Re: Let's talk meaningful and dynamic economy

Postby Mooncrest » Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:50 pm

Wulf,

I think in our discussion of Cost of Production we had previously, I misunderstood your proposal.

Instead of a daily maintenance cost and minimum wage, we should set a value that goes to the colonists on the sale of every unit of goods.. So, whether you are selling one unit of carbon or a ship, 20%,say, of the sales price goes into the Colonist Fund. This will give the colonists a fund to draw on when they want to buy illicit goods and set a baseline for calculating a more realistic product price. Also it will not hit the casual player because it is only paid when a sale is made.

Might this make smuggling a viable proposition? I am not sure it is now, because most players only pay their colonists 1cr a day effectively.

A question: Do the colonists pay for the luxuries we supply; Beer, Wine, Cigars and Neurostims? If they do, how much is it?

There is an element on the wage bill to cover Housing, Food and Healthcare; which is, presumably, paid to them with one hand and taken back with the other to cover the costs of supplying these items. Nothing has been mentioned about the 'luxuries' though.
Last edited by Mooncrest on Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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